Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Monday, April 26, 2010

I rode. I raced

So, I had my first experience with a road race yesterday at the Spring Valley Road Race. If you check the results, I'm the one with no team and no license number. Ha.

I'd been told about the team strategies and how things may unfold, but it was a much different experience being in the pack and watching it all unfold. I'm used to either hammering in a paceline or just going balls out for a few hours. All this surging and starting and stopping was interesting...and how Team Dayton actually worked as a team.
Anyway, three Team Dayton girls broke away and me and two other girls went for the chase, but we didn't catch them, so the three of us worked together through the final two legs. I was just using this as a training ride, as it was 46 miles and I needed to ride. And it was wet and windy, so the race seemed like a better option than the trainer.

I came in 3rd for the Cat3/4s and 5th overall. Not bad.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Always something new

Ya know how sometimes life just surprises you? Sometimes it's the good wow-i-never-knew-what-i-was-missing! kinda surprise. And sometimes it's the don't-know-what-you-had-til-it's-gone kinda surprise. That latter kind sucks.

I got a kick-in-the-gut surprise the other night by someone I love dearly. And this person is always supportive in word, but when it comes to action, there is very little follow through. And for some reason, I continue to believe the word, even when experience tells me I shouldn't.

So, that hit Wednesday.

I ended up taking Clubber to the dog park and vacuuming since I ran an easy 7 that morning and I knew Masters wouldn't be cake the next morning. And because I knew, mentally, I was a little bummed, which meant I would totally kill myself trying to blow off steam if I trained. And frankly, that would be a bad choice.

But I wasn't disappointed with swim practice. After warm-up, it was 30 mins of 100s on 1:25. And then it was 10 mins of 50s kicking with fins on :45.

I met my buddy, Ackerman, for a ride after work and we tagged on the back of a group ride...where I discovered the identity of Joe Biker, oh so randomly. We're riding along and I thought he looked like this other cyclist I met a while back. I say, "are you Dale?" and he says, "No, I'm Joe." DING DING DING. Light bulb! So, the mystique is gone and I now know what he looks like, in real life.

Anyway, it was a good ride - enough speed to keep it interesting, enough distance to make it a workout, enough good cheer to keep it fun and one neon wearing, whistle-toting safety cyclist to scare off dogs, drivers and birds.

Tomorrow was supposed to be a trip over to Shawnee to ride the TTT course, but it looks to be a washout...so intense trainer session followed by a run in the rain...and if it's not storming Sunday, my first bike race!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Almost doesn't count

After coming home from HOS and getting right back into training at high intensity and volume, I found myself feeling somewhat weak. Over the weekend, we had some group training and I knew I wasn't feeling up to snuff, so while I wanted to push, I just didn't have it in me. So, I did what I could and didn't stress so much about it. I made sure to eat right and I spent some time with my feet up on the couch. Sunday morning, I went for a long run and then to a local road race to watch some friends kick some tail on their rides. I also wanted to get a better sense for what road racing entails because I've been encouraged to participate.

Anyway, I took it easy for the most part over the weekend and through Monday. by Tuesday morning, I was feeling a bit sluggish, but I went to swim practice with the attitude that if I don't feel well, I don't have to kill myself.

But something happened.

The water treated me really well! I'm not sure if it's because I did take it kinda easy for a couple days or what, but I was hitting times I couldn't make just a few weeks ago. And at the very end of practice, we did a 200 all out and I went 2:38, which is really good for me. We had some intervals as our main set...we were doing 6x50 on :35 with fins and then 200 non-free easy four times through. The third round through, these 50s, the lactic acid had really built up and my heart rate was through the roof and I almost...ALMOST thought I was gonna see that breakfast banana again.

That night, I was highly anticipating this group ride out of the LBS. I get there and they announce that there are going to now be three groups instead of two...now there will be a "race pace", "fast" and a "moderate"...due to the fact that there was such a pace discrepency in the previously named "fast" group the week before.

I opted for the "race pace" group as I'd ridden with some of the guys before and been able to hang on just fine. This week, there were some new faces, in particular, three cat 3 men. It was a fast ride from the get go. And then we added in some hills. Like four of them. Four of them that are very long. And very steep. One guy actually claimed the second one was the worst hill he's come across in all of NKY. And as I climbed, breathing like Darth Vador, lungs burning, quads on fire, praying that around each bend we crested I would see the top, I again ALMOST lost my lunch...er, pre-ride smoothie. And as always, I was amazed at how the downhills allow for recovery and you forget the pain of each hill until you hit the next one.

I did finish the ride. And I wasn't the last one up any of the hills. And I did take pulls and i did hang on. And I was tired by the end. But the kinda of tired that makes you fall asleep happy. And grateful that I've been fortunate enough to have some very special people take an interest in helping me out.

I almost threw up twice in one day from workouts. But almost doesn't count, right? Instead I got to push my limits just a little further for the day.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Casual Friday

They're my favorite day of the week. Actually, my favorite work day of the week. Wearing jeans and a tank to work just makes life more tolerable, right?

Anyway, many thanks to the congrats on the 200 miler. It was difficult. But I'm glad to have it under my belt.

It was not an "A" race, which means that training commenced immediately after returning home. Sunday was shot with the drive home from AL and returning the rental car and unpacking, etc. But, Monday, it was back in the pool...which felt AMAZING, btw...the cool bouyancy and lack of leg usage after being cramped in a car. After riding for 12 hours. (And Sean, no, my ass wasn't sore. Good cycling shorts and Chamois Butt'r work magic. I just stopped in the LBS to pick some up and met my future boyfriend.)

Tuesday was Masters swimming and a 2 hour ride after work. And Wednesday was a run and a ride. And Thursday was Masters and a run. Today, Friday, weights and a run. And now I'm tired. And the rain is coming in, which is also, apparently, going to bring in cooler temps. So, the couch and a movie are calling my name. Because tomorrow morning is a brick with the team. Gotta get ready for Triple T!!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

HOS 200 Race report

The Heart of the South 200 started at 5am on Saturday morning. It was dark. Like, really dark. And cold. About 40 degrees. But the high was slated to be 75, so it was all about layering. We were just outside Birmingham, AL, which is gorgeous country. There were probably 25 of us that started the race (small, I know) and we had a nice paceline going. In the dark, pace lines can be tricky. I was incredibly grateful that there were a few recumbants that stay in the back, for drafting purposes, and have huge spotlights. My little light peetered out after about an hour because I forgot to charge it. Duh!

This is the description of the beginning of the course from the website:
Starting you will encounter some short sharp hills before getting out of the Cahaba River area; by mile 20 these are gone. The next few miles are rolling hills

Before long, the sun began to rise. And the sky was lit up all fushia and orange. It was breath taking! We passed through farmland, rolling hills, lush green fields full of cows and horses and the occasional barn or house. The crowd of cyclists started to break up a bit, but six of our seven were still together at mile 30.

And that's when I felt that urge...to pee. But I held on until someone else absolutely had to go. Three of us stopped together and the other three of our team went on ahead in the lead pack. These were also the only three of our team that had done the race the year before. So, it was me, my buddy Ackerman, whom I train with pretty consistently, and Kromer, who is a climbing machine and very, very nice guy that I'd had little riding experience with prior to this double century.

After some rolling hills, we hit some major fog and assumed we were near a body of water. It wasn't until we passed the dam that we were able to see the lake and the people fishing on it.

We paused at mile 40 for the first check-in and to refill water bottles. We were all still feeling quite spry. It wasn't even 7am, so that's pretty normal, I suppose.

We went through some flats and took five minute pulls. Ackerman started giving us a guided bird tour. And we came across wild turkeys. But not very many people.

We stopped again at mile 70, where our SAG was waiting in the parking lot of a small car dealership. We did our business, refueled, and told SAG to meet us again in about 20 miles. Between miles 85 and 92, the roads had been repaved and covered the marker where there was a turn. Just before we hit it, we stopped to ask a couple locals (who thought we were absolutely NUTS) if we were on the right track. We hit a few mile+ climbs that were brutal fun. We were aware that the real climbs started after the 100 mile mark. And that's when Ackerman said "If we haven't climbed a mountain yet, I'm in trouble".

And here's how the remainder of the ride is described:
After the back roads you end up at route 78 and the last two significantly long sections of climbing. The first is the run up to Cheaha Mountain. The Park Service recently put its’ famous stone and tar covering on the surface of the road. ... since this is a “scenic” road, there are four steep climbs. A profile has been created, click here; Scenic Highway 281.

Ok, so, this part wasn't so bad. I was still feeling pretty fresh. We'd hit the century mark at about five hours and we'd all been surprised at how great we were feeling. I took off and Kromer joined me. We had also started playing tag with a group of four other cyclists, one of whom was another female. She'd done the 500 mile ride a couple years ago. Sounds insane to me! But, anyway, she's telling us a little about the course and everyone is still smiling...
After this section you start the climb of Mount Cheaha, a longer, steady climb to the highest point in Alabama. A profile has been created, click here; Mount Cheaha.

This is when things turned sour. The sun had come out. My forearms were on fire. I couldn't get my breathing under control. I hadn't eaten in almost two hours. And I was feeling a little dizy. I started to question my ability to even finish the race. I was on the back of my saddle grinding in my smallest gear, willing my legs to turn over. Every time I looked up, I could see Kromer ahead of me. And I swear, he never stopped going up.

And then finally...sweet relief!!! Our SAG was at the top of Cheaha. He had a Gatorade bottle and a water bottle in his hands and was ready to pass them off. But I was ready to cry. And get off my bike. Or quit. I yelled to him "DON'T LEAVE!". It must've been a pretty convincing wimper because he stayed. 

I got some fluids and some food and salt tabs. And took a pee. And my mood lifted as I saw Ackerman rising over the crest of the mountain. Unfortunately, his mood was much like mine when I had arrived at that spot - foul. He smarted off something. We all stripped some more clothes and hopped back on our bikes. It was close to 75 degrees at that point. And not a cloud in the sky.

And this was what came next:
A nice decent, with some ups and downs on the way and then back in the flatter lands of rolling terrain, and across another dam, south of the first crossed, same river. Getting close to the finish there are two 1.5 mile climbs, shown on the profile; Last Two Climbs

Kromer and I lost Ackerman on the downhill as he had some technical difficulty with his gearing. We bombed through some rollers. We stopped around mile 135. And while 65 miles doesn't seem like that much in the grand scheme of things, my legs were thinking differently. They wanted it to be over. But my mind knew there was much more to come.

There were potty breaks and reapplications of Chamois Butt'r (which I HIGHLY endorse). And eating of peanut butter crackers. There were cows and horses and even an emu farm!

Kromer and I continued to play tag with that group of four I mentioned earlier. We hit a check point with about 50 miles remaining, just after picking up Ackerman again. We filled up with water there and ran into our SAG just a few miles later. We stopped and I had the most amazing thing of the day...an ice cold Coke!

Kromer and I took off and Ack decided to rest a while. The two of us took turns pulling and worked together those last miles. It was rough. And I was whiney. But at that point, I knew there were only a couple hours remaining. By the time we hit those last two big climbs, my legs were toast. But I was so so so relieved to see the Cracker Barrel parking lot (ie - the finish) at 11 hours 53 mins, just under that 12 hour goal. I was second female (although there were only four of us) and 9th finisher overall. My coach set a new course record (in 10:35!!!) and my teammate, Missy, set a new women's course record in 10:55.

Afterward, we showered, had bar-b-que and hit the sack. I thought I'd not want to be on the bike for days...but don't ya know, I've ridden the last two nights :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Dirrrttty South

We all survived the Heart of the South 200. It was, by far, the most beautiful, picture perfect, amazing, difficult ride I've ever done. Mount Cheeha is no joke. According to my buddy's Garmin, we did over 14,000ft of climbing, though I don't know the accuracy of that information. Needless to say, it wasn't flat. I will post a full race report soon, and I did manage to attain my goal for the ride. I'll leave you with this picture of our good-looking team, even after being in the saddle for hours and hours.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Love yourself

Love yourself, for who and what you are; protect your dream and develop your talent to the fullest extent.
 -Joan Benoit Samuelson
And then go visit Big Bikes. Or Zen. But don't read with liquids in your mouth. Unless, of course, your computer screen needs a cleaning anyway.
I've been wiping tears of laughter from my eyes all morning. So much for that carefully applied eye liner. It's now smeared all over my face.
It's just one of those days. I awoke at 4:30am to 54 degrees. And then I heard "diiirrrrrty" on my way to swim practice. And then we did zombie kicks and the chicken wing swim, among much else. And at work, I got a call from one of my sales reps that was let go (he also gave me a card, thanking me for my attitude. not good attitude or bad attitude, just attitude. ha. and he left me with his SI swimsuit edition collection). Another old rep of mine stopped in the office to say hello as well. I've had this silly shit-eatin' grin on my face all day.

It's spring! We topped out at 70something degrees yesterday and I've missed Jeopardy the last two nights to ride. I had to be the voice of reason for my training buddy last night and force the ride to end at just over two hours...and moments before dusk...because it is recovery week. And, well, that is not on the schedule.

I took the dog for a walk over my lunch break and couldn't help but laugh about how dogs really do immitate their owners after a period of time. For example, Clubber is easily distracted. She enjoys walking for a period of time, but then a squirrel will catch her eye. As soon as it runs off, she's looking at the flower that's popping up or sniffing another dog's shit or scoping out one of the billion feral cats in the neighborhood. This is much how I in regard to, well, everything - men, training, projects at work, blogs (this is why i have 7 windows open, each with a blog)... And then, Clubby and I were walking along a residential area and a dog comes up to the fence. They trot along for about...2 seconds, when Clubber decides she has to do her business. NOW. It doesn't matter who's watching or what she was doing. All that matters is that she needs relief. Much like the other night when I was on a group ride with all men. Snot rockets and spit all over the place. Or when we were riding loops in Ault Park a couple weeks back and the bathrooms were closed, I just squatted near the tree line (and was, of course, called a "hillbilly" by training buddy). Some things just can't wait. So, yes, I am like a dog.

I'm babbling now. Giddy with anticipation of what Friday and the weekend hold. Signing off